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Spanglish is legitimate

Spanglish is a legitimate form of Spanish, and a special badge of identity in the U.S., co-authors of “The Story of Spanish” said May 22 at Busboys & Poets in Washington, D.C.

“Many say it’s all Spanglish, but that’s just a form of Spanish spoken in United States,” saidJean-Benoit Nadeau, co-author of the new book with Julie Barlow. “A lot of people say that French Canadians speak a ‘fake’ French.”

Different, yes, but both are legitimate.

“The French spoken in Quebec is different from the French spoken in Paris, and the English Texans speak differs from the English spoken in Texas,” added Nadeau, who is French Canadian.

And there are different forms of U.S. Spanglish, including Cubonics spoken by Miami Cubans, Nuyorican spoken by New York Puerto Ricans, and Domincanish, spoken by New Yorkers from the Dominican Republic (Dominican Republicans?).

Spanglish “can be seen as the badge of a special American identity — the way Franglais is for English speakers in Quebec,” say the authors, who are from Quebec. The trilingual husband and wife team also wrote the bestsellers “The Story of French” and “Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong”.

But back to Span(gl)ish, but the book.

Spain’s official Spanish language institute, Real Academia Española (RAE), “has repeatedly condemned Spanglish in the past, yet it recently admitted the words chatear (to chat) and tuitear(to tweet) into standard Spanish vocabulary…”

The Associated Press (AP) in 2012 produced an almost 500-page style manual in Spanish with 4,900 entries, including some estadounidismos (U.S. Spanish) like tuitear (to tweet).

And the United States’ own Spanish-language academy, ANLE, established 40 years ago, has created a glossary of estadounidismos – including bagel as well as paralegal. Dios mio!

Spanglish is not a recent phenomenon. The term was coined in 1948 by Salvador Tió, a Puerto Rican columnist who later became a member of the Puerto Rican Academy of Spanish, the authors noted.

Spanish itself is the unofficial second language of the United States. The U.S. has the second largest number of Spanish-speakers, about 40 million, following Mexico, and Spain ranking third, among more than 400 million Spanish-speaking people in 22 countries — each with its own Spanish language institute.

Both authors stressed the “very resilient attraction to Spanish” in the U.S. “Spanish is growing here despite assimilation — it’s not a foreign language in the U.S.,” Barlow told the Busboys and Poets crowd.

“One reason people are attracted to Spanish in the U.S. is, despite Hispanics historically being in the lower rungs, their culture was always very popular,” Nadeau commented.

They cited culture high and not-so-high: Cervantes, Gabriel García Márquez, Pedro Almódovar, and also tango, rumba, and telenovelas.

“I love telenovelas,” Barlow said. “They really suck you in…great ice breakers, even with men.”

But she added, based on their six years of living in Arizona, “Middle-class Southwesterners are interested in speaking Spanish, but not in Spanish-speakers. There’s a very real thirst for the Spanish language. But in the American West, there’s still a cultural feeling of fighting off the Indians and the Mexicans.”

Their book “The Story of Spanish”, published this month by St. Martin’s Press, is the first full biography of Spanish.

The compelling book, in English, combines history, research, anecdotes, reflections, travelogue — and trivia.

  • How did the sign for the peso become the dollar sign?
  • What 13th century monarch was a “bad king who squandered all resources”, but was the first medieval European ruler to put his language (Castilian) to “broad and spectacular use”, standardize its rules, and write 420 religious poems? Okay, it was Alfonso X. Spanish is the only language to have two names, Castilian and Spanish.
  • What queen asked “What’s the use” of developing Spanish grammar? Queen Isabella. Fortunately, she did not have the same response when Christopher Columbus sought financing for his explorations.
  • What event of all in 1492 most affected the Spanish language? The Spanish Inquisition’s expulsion of Spain’s Jews, forcing between 800,000 and 40,000 people into exile. (“Sephardic comes from the Hebrew word for Spain, Sefara.) The resulting “celebrities” from those families included artist Modigliani, philosopher Spinoza, British prime minister Disraeli, U.S. Supreme Court justice Cardozo, actor Azaria…
  • Who predicted that English and Spanish would one day “become interchangeable languages”? H.G. Wells, in “The Shape of Things to Come”. Well, that’s not likely, but fortunately, neither was Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”, even when Orson Welles broadcast it and terrified Americans.

Source: The

Category: World News |

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Last updated March 25, 2017 at 5:40 PM
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